Benchmark metrics give directional guidance for where you should pay attention and perhaps take action. They highlight your relative strengths and weaknesses in certain quantifiable areas.
Some people, however, maintain that mere presentation of the law department’s numbers, let alone benchmark comparisons or decisions, bring benefits. For example, some believe that waving compiled numbers at procurement is the garlic that will save you (See my post of April 13, 2010: show command of your figures and you will be left unmolested.). Others believe that opening the black box and sharing numbers will ward off prying executives and by that transparency alone demonstrate value to the company (See my post of July 15, 2010: open books on the black box.). A third argument in favor of disclosure of numbers, even if they are not benchmarked in comparison to other legal departments nor a reason for action, stresses the managerial prowess you display by tracking and reporting your metrics.
These three arguments all say that value comes from disclosure alone, whether or not the data is relative to peers or whether the general counsel acts on them. I have my doubts. Numbers collected without decisions thereafter have little worth.